• Cathy Pasterczyk

    Thank you for this. I am moving back to New Mexico soon and will be looking for this species. !!

  • Andrew Block

    Great post Brian. Thanks for posting it. If I ever get back to NM I’ll try for them there.

  • Bud Lensing

    Did you notice any physical characteristics that could leave no doubt other than elevation? Did you only seen them at night? I have seen range maps that show the Eastern could possibIy be in the area. In late June did an all day hike from 4th of July to the base of Mosca peak and back down the Albuquerque trail with no success.

    • Brian Keelan

      Hi, Bud, I don’t know of any physical difference useful in the field. The chapmanii subspecies of Eastern Cottontail may reach this far west but it must be very scarce because IUCN does not show it in the state at all. In the Trans-Pecos it inhabits grasslands and does not get above 4700 feet so I don’t think it is possible in the Manzano Mountains.

  • Vladimir Dinets

    I am really sorry to bring bad news, but according to the most recent study it’s not a valid species. Diersing & Wilson (2021) found it to be undistinguishable from S. holzneri, a recent split from S. floridanus (formerly its subspecies) that inhabits SW NM, SE AZ and NW Mexico. They also found Davis Mts. cottontail to be a subspecies of S. holzneri. That study looked only at morphology, not at molecular data, but molecular studies in Leporidae tend to complicate things rather than clarify them. Some other interesting stuff there, too: https://meridian.allenpress.com/pbsw/article-abstract/134/1/42/466535/Systematics-of-the-mountain-inhabiting-cottontails

  • BWKeelan

    Hi, Vladimir, Sylvilagus taxonomy really is a quagmire. It is plausible that all the mid- to high-elevation cottontails of the arid Southwest might be one species, but there is also decent morphological evidence that at least S. robustus is distinct. Regardless, even if the three taxa are lumped under S. holzneri, the Manzano Mountains might represent the best place for mammal-watchers to find and reasonably confidently identify that taxon. My personal experience is that S. robustus is harder to find, and what I’ve read about S. holzneri sensu stricto is vague but suggests it may overlap more in elevation and habitat with S. audubonii. Does anyone have a location in SW New Mexico for S. holzneri, where Desert Cottontail can be ruled out?

    • Vladimir Dinets

      Yes, the taxonomy is murky at the moment, although not as hopeless as in Lepus. I haven’t got the full text of the paper yet, so I can’t answer your question. My guess would be Animas Mts., plus, of course, the SM Occidental in Mexico where high-elevation habitats are much more extensive. When I get the full text I’ll go over it in the next taxonomy news post.

  • Jon Hall

    THanks Brian, I want to go back and look for this speciess (whatever it is)) again at these higher sites.

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